Posts Tagged: The Guardian

Stability in the Spinning Chaos

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Why is Catch-22 so widely read? According to the Guardian’s Sam Jordison, Joseph Heller’s novel is powerful because its protagonist Yossarian is “an old-fashioned hero”:

Readers immediately cared about Yossarian, and his survival. Yossarian is the point of connection and understanding; a strong central fulcrum around which the chaos of the novel spins.

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Keep Minor Characters Minor

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At the Guardian, Charlotte Jones takes issue with the recently announced Pride and Prejudice sequel fleshing out the life of Mary Bennett—a character whose neglect is central to Austin’s plot:

The singularity of Elizabeth Bennett, after all – the reason she so often features in lists of our favourite literary characters – relies solely upon the relief cast by her dull sisters.

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Stable Decline

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According to an article by Alison Flood in the Guardian, library use in England has fallen almost 31 percent over the past decade, with one notable exception:

Adults in the least deprived areas of England saw their library usage decline the most over the decade, from 46.3% to 31.4%, while according to the report, library usage in the five most deprived areas of the country ‘remained reasonably stable.

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Anti-Blackness in Sci-Fi Publishing

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Less than two percent of science fiction stories published in 2015 were by black writers. And a recent study found that black speculative fiction writers face “universal” racism—more damning evidence demonstrating the institutionalized racism in book publishing, and the importance of introducing more diversity at every level of the process.

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Read More, Live Longer

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In a recent study, researchers found that people over fifty who read more—books in particular—lived an average of two years longer than those who didn’t read at all:

The researchers discovered that up to 12 years on, those who read for more than 3.5 hours a week were 23% less likely to die, while those who read for up to 3.5 hours a week were 17% less likely to die.

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In Conversation with Elizabeth Strout

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I love all my characters; every single person I write about, I love. So as I write them, I don’t care how badly they misbehave, because they are who they are, they do what they do.

In an interview with the Guardian, Elizabeth Strout talks about her latest novel, My Name Is Lucy Barton, the importance of place in her fiction, and her writing process and career.

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Fiction’s Rise of Female Friendships

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Readers are shifting focus from outdated gender expectations and conceptions of identity, and as a result, complex, non-compartmentalized female friendships are blooming in fiction. Books about these friendships are spaces for female writers and readers to explore the complexity of their relationships and selves without the influence of men, whose presence can quickly turn a female character into a label (mother, daughter, lover, keeper) and distract from the potentially subversive nature of female-only friendships.

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Virgil for All

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As part of its ongoing project to digitize its library of more than 80,000 manuscripts, the Vatican has recently digitized a 1,600-year-old edition of Virgil’s Aeneid. Only 76 pages survive what was likely a complete collection of Virgil’s work. Part of the drive to digitize comes from the hope that with digital copies of rare, ancient texts, scholars will not need to consult the actual manuscripts as much, which can speed degeneration. 

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It Was an Honor Just to Be Nominated

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We would all love to pretend that we’re above the euphoric rush of gaining approval. But winning feels good, and writing that truth in its fullness is a key step to understanding it. For the Guardian, Viet Thanh Nguyen discusses his novel The Sympathizer and describes the fascinating sensation of learning that he had won the Pulitzer Prize:

I was writing emails when Facebook and Twitter began beeping and pinging, telling me that Something Very Important had happened.

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Belles of the Box Office

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The multifaceted Kirsten Dunst is going to direct a new film version of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, and the lovely Dakota Fanning is set to star in it, the Guardian reports. “Dunst has co-written the film with Nellie Kim, while Fanning is a co-producer; shooting is scheduled to begin in early 2017,” the article said.

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Is the Struggle Real?

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A rash of confessional memoirs by middle- and upper-class white women (think Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl) has repositioned feminism not as a political movement, but as a validation for extreme self-exposure. These books have some feminists wondering if they’re doing more harm than good:

What we are seeing now is feminism used as a brand; dislocated and disconnected from any collective political project.

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The Authentic Weakness of Being

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… Initiation into the system of words Beckett was working with in the mid-1960s is more complicated, not least because the system was corrupted, a failure…

Over at the Guardian, Chris Power writes about the short prose of Samuel Beckett, from first attempts “stinking of Joyce” to the complete breakdown of language itself as presented by later work—its glory and difficulty and brilliance and frailty.

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Rest in Peace, Scotty Moore

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Elvis Presley’s lead guitarist passed away this week in Nashville at the age of 84, and in tribute the Guardian has published a piece discussing how the musician shaped Elvis’s country-blues rockabilly sound so evident in songs like “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Mystery Train,” and “Jailhouse Rock.”

Scotty Moore’s legacy can possibly best be mapped through how he paved the way for other lead guitarists.

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Censorship in Ukraine

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During anti-government protests in the Ukraine in 2013 and 2014, Oleh Shynkarenko, a journalist and blogger, found himself turning to Facebook after some of his blog posts were deleted, presumably by security forces. What he shared was a novel about about a man whose brain was controlled by the Russian government, published in 100-word snippets on the social media platfrom (where authorities had less power). 

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Liberal Censorship

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In May, Portland’s school board voted to ban textbooks that questioned the severity and human causes of climate change, drawing criticism not only from the right, but from free-speech advocates as well:

“Social studies texts accurately describing the political debate around fossil fuels and climate change, for instance, would presumably contain comments from individuals who ‘express doubt about the severity of the climate crisis’.

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Rabid Puppies Butt Invasion

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The Rabid Puppies, an MRA group trying to overthrow the “progressive conspiracy” poisoning the Hugo Awards for the second year in a row, have continued their fearless activism by nominating Chuck Tingle’s Space Raptor Butt Invasion for Best Novelette. Tingle, author of erotic novelettes such as Unicorn Butt Cops: Beach Patrol and Glazed By The Gay Living Donuts, has responded with the most vicious counter-trolling in Internet history.

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Where Books Meet Their Ends

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For the Guardian, Sam Jordison draws parallels between Don DeLillo’s previous novels (White Noise and Omega) and his most recent novel, Zero K:

In Point Omega, we’re told: “The true life is not reducible to words spoken or written, not by anyone, ever.” In White Noise, meanwhile, Jack Gladney already feels like he is the false character following his name around.

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Poet Tripping

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Carol Ann Duffy, the UK’s poet laureate, has invited three poets to join her on a road trip through England, Wales and Scotland, which will take them from Falmouth to St Andrews over the course of a fortnight.

From June 19 to July 2, Gillian Clarke, the outgoing national poet of Wales, the makar (the national poet of Scotland) Jackie Kay, and Imtiaz Dharker, winner of the Queen’s gold medal for poetry, will be driving with Carol Ann Duffy through Great Britain on the “Shore to Shore” poets tour, to bring their words throughout the country.

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